Stroke is one of the deadliest complications of sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea are more likely to experience a stroke, but the risks don’t actually end there.
Actually, in some ways, the risks go up for people with sleep apnea after their first stroke. That’s because even if they survive their first stroke, sleep apnea can increase their risk of additional strokes. And, according to a new study, sleep apnea can also increase a person’s risk for another complication: post-stroke depression.
Doctors need to increase screening for sleep apnea in people at high stroke risk. However, they also need to make sure that all people are screened for sleep apnea following a stroke. Treating sleep apnea at this time can improve a person’s chance of recovery.
Apnea Severity Linked to Depression Risk
For this study, doctors looked at 265 stroke patients from March 2017 and December 2018. These patients received a full polysomnography to properly diagnose sleep apnea. Over 80% of patients had sleep apnea (32% mild, 20% moderate, and 29% severe).
Patients were also evaluated for post-stroke depression using a robust depression tool at both their admission and three months later.
Researchers showed that although apnea severity was not associated with depression when people entered the hospital, it was associated with it three months after stroke treatment. They also found that having severe sleep apnea was associated with a four times greater risk of post-stroke depression three months after admission.